Totora Cebicheria Peruana, DIFC

by Shekhar, Jannat & Pawan Manghnani on August 2nd, 2016

About

Set in DIFC's Gate Village, co founder Ali Sidani and Rania Khalifa alongside Roya International's chairman Ahmed Ramadan, hope to bring the soul of the South American country with Totora, that opened earlier this year in March. 

"The inspiration for our venues’ name comes from a versatile plant that inspired the imagination of a young man. He first saw this robust plant featured in an edition of the National Geographic magazine. People from the mid-coast region of Peru dry out and weave the reeds to build ‘Caballitos de Totora’, small canoe-like vessels used mainly for fishing expeditions. This eventually translated into an ambition to discover and experience the rich culture of Peruvian life, & gastronomy. From the simple yet rugged origins of the Totora plant to its inspirational usages in everyday life, we employ this iconic material to showcase our passion and creativity for a fresh and authentically unique Peruvian experience. Our concept has been centered on love of food and life" the fine dining narrates itself.

Spread over 6,000 square feet, Totora seats 185 people, serving food noon-midnight Saturday to Wednesday and extending its operation times until 1AM on Thursdays and Fridays. The bar opens an hour later than the restaurant each night. 

Being the rare and exotic cuisine it is, Totora looks to compete against the highly acclaimed international brand Coya which is at Four Seasons Resort in Jumeirah, Pollo Pollo, Poco Loco, Garden and neighboring Peruvian restaurants in Ceviche and Mayta by Jaime Pesaque in DIFC.

Review

DIFC is one of the most happening places in Dubai in terms of fine dining restaurants, besides being the financial hub. The formal locale demands posh execution from all its establishments and that includes its lavish restaurants, that over the years have become hosts of  heavyweight culinary experiences such as La Petite Maison and Zuma.

Keeping that in mind, Totora Cebicheria Peruana excels in its obvious efforts to provide quality time to its customers through the entirety of their stay. We along with some bloggers were invited to celebrate Peru's Independence Day at Totora. Never underestimating the term "foodie" Totora's staff is persistent with its food delivery and service, never once do I recall our table being without food and drinks. Trained with an eye for observation of understanding when to swap dishes on the table and move through the courses. Each dish was served with a detailed explanation of its ingredients and what makes it so special.  

Addressing the elephant in the blog, getting accustomed to the Peruvian offerings should have been a task for us being not so well versed with the cuisine, instead each dish is unique in its own way yet the ingredients are so familiar, breaking the barrier almost immediately. With an array of options, it never compromises its quality with no sign of overdone ingredients. Its truly a colourful culinary experience. 

Ambiance

Totora features a contemporary design and decor by award winning Fadi Sarieddine that is complemented by a lounge and bar over its two storey structure. The entrance is a rope bridge that is reminiscent of the Incan Rope Bridge. ​Although most of the interiors is completely irrelevant to its food, its modern and dynamic feel accomplishes the goal to look chic and elegant. I just wish they would have accomplished this with ways to capture its origin of Peru. 

Drinks

Don't remember what all went in them, but the drinks were really potent and tasted exotic to say the very least. This one was supposed to open up your palette and I know it contained egg whites. Super refreshing.
This arrived to us when we were just about to have the main course, again very refreshing and extremely potent, this had us flying high. If I remember correctly, it had some Peruvian Gin in it.

Food

Champinones:
Button, eryngii and enoki mushrooms, lime juice, inka corn, coriander. 
Strong flavours (mostly sour), it was the freshness of this product that got us interested! It serves a really good appetiser for vegetarians especially in the summer months! 
De Bario:
Octopus, shrimps, sea bass, boiled cassava, chulpi corn, rocoto leche di tigre.
A seafood lovers paradise, this one had so many varieties and textures, it doused in some very fresh tasting lime juice and pepper. I was a bit apprehensive thinking it may taste too "fishy", but absolutely not. It was super tangy and one of a kind. 
Nikkei:
Tuna, avocado with Nekkei soya sauce.
Consider Nikkei to be the beautiful love child of Japan and Peru! Nikkei cuisine has gained some popularity in recent times and is considered to be comfort Peruvian food sprinkled with some Japanese flare and that is exactly what this dish was about. Chunky (yet tender) tuna, drenched in a flavoured soya sauce kept uber fresh with htick chunks of avocado and some sliced onion! Gorgeous! 
Quinoa Roll:
Quinoa, red snapper, avocado, rocoto sauce.
My cousin, is strict vegetarian and hence at the beginning of our session here, we specified that, just to avoid any allergic reactions. But the people here were really generous to make some extra effort to create a veggie counterpart! We really appreciated this Totora Team!

So, quinoa makes everything better as it is, and then throw in some avocado and red-snapper we had a winner. The veggie one was identical minus the snapper.. For us though, the star of the dish was the rocoto sauce- which we learn is one of the typical dips/sauces in Peruvian cuisine and comes in spice levels medium-hot. The core of this sauce is a bunch of rocoto peppers blended with oil and then varied to the chefs discretion! Amazing.
Lucky for us, it not only looked so good, but tasted excellent as well.. 
Empanadas De Carne:
Beef, aji panca, chimichurri sauce
One of the best dishes on the table! Calssical Peruvian this one was baked to perfection with a delectable filling of minced beef and aji chillies that are so national. The topping with that chimmichuri salsa just added the much required zing. The best way to eat it apparently is to break the empanada in half and squeeze a dash of lime on it to really get a burst of every flavour! 

The also did a vegetarian option for us *bless them*, filled with mushrooms I think? Gone in 60 seconds. It was everything!
De Pollo:
Chicken, house aji sauce.
YES! We are such major poultry fans that we couldn't wait for this dish to arrive! Marinated succulent chicken topped with some mildly spiced sauce, it tasted really good! 
Marinated Veg Skewers:
Mushroom and Asparagus.
So they did a vegetarian option as well and this one was alternated with portobello and asparagus toped with chimichurri. 
Arroz Con Pato:
Duck, aji amarillo, aji panca, rice, coriander, dark beer.
On to the mains, this one consisted of tender and still pink in the centre pieces of duck breast, with some flavoured rice that was outstanding. when eaten in with all the elements present, it is a wonderful and wholesome dish.
Seco De Cordero:
Chica De Jora braised lamb leg, aji panca, aji amarillo, chife Peruvian squash.
Almost off the bone lamb shank,  with a beautiful squash, it was a wholesome meal on its own and very very satisfying! By this time we were really digging the whole aji pepper taste in everything.
Quinnoto:
White quinoa, portobello mushrooms, aji amarillo, white wine, parmesan cheese, black truffle oil.
I just love Quinoa and the crunch it provides, though i've never tried quinoa and truffle oil. And needless to say, Truffles can make anything taste like heaven and this was actually good food. Shaved parmesan on top just added to the richness of this whole thing. 

Desserts

Tres Leches:
Sponge cake, evaporated and condensed milk, whipping cream, berries.
The BEST tres leche I've had in Dubai in a very very long time. The sponge cake made all the difference I think, because the other ones usually have a dense cake along with the yum condensed milk pool, which makes it super heavy to eat. But this one was perfect. The berries added a nice fine dine touch to it.
Clasico Peruano:
Classic rice pudding, purple corn sorbet, fig crumble.
It was good to try some traditional course throughout our dinner and of course dessert couldn't be left out. This classic dish was a favourite amongst everyone on our table with the combination of the sorbet and the rice pudding being a winner!  

Rating

​Interiors –
Excellent

Location –
Good

Ambiance –
Excellent

Value for Money –
Good

Service & Hospitality –
Excellent

Quality & Taste of Food –
Excellent

Cost –
About AED250-300 Per PAX

Cuisine –
Peruvian

Phone –
04 3999666

Address –
​Gate Village 7, DIFC, Dubai

Verdict

Totora is a grandiose experience as a whole, from its interiors, techno music, exceptional service, wide variety of food and drinks, it fires on all cylinders. One cannot expect value for money at a fine dining restaurant but Totora may make you reevaluate that. The serving sizes were reasonable for the prices. Weather you've experienced the Peruvian cuisine before or are completely oblivious to it, there is something for everyone here (there is a surprising number of vegetarian options as well).   

Power Couple & Lifestyle Bloggers Jannat Manghnani (@PriyankaVidhani) & Pawan Manghnani (@AyaashPaw) love food. It's the only thing they eat. They embark on a unique adventure every evening trying to break free from the routine while soaking in a new experience, well detailed into blogs so friends & family can benefit from them. Read about the entire experience by checking out their various blogs. Remember, A drop of ink may make a million think.


Posted in Food ~ The Tasterpreneur    Tagged with peruvian, peru, DIFC


1 Comments

Jimmy - August 2nd, 2016 at 5:47 AM
Nice!!!

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